The bottom three: The double elimination took us back to a plodding reveal of the bottom three. The dull slow drip made Gilles Marini safe, then Lawrence Taylor, then Shawn Johnson, Chuck Wicks, Lil’ Kim, Melissa Rycroft, then Ty Murray. Holly Madison and Steve-O had been placed in the bottom three along the way, so this left Steve Wozniak and David Alan Grier. Unsurprisingly, the low-scored Steve was in the bottom three, and the higher-scored David was safe. Of Holly and the two barely dancing Steves, two were destined to go home.
The eliminations: Frankly, Holly deserved to go … but so did Steve-O, and so did Steve. They’re all probably fighting over the opportunity to go home next week. First to be sent home was Holly — no surprise after her poor showing last week. The second was Steve Wozniak, so his reign of goofiness is over. In terms of actual dancing, the result is probably about right, because of the three, Steve-O is the most intermittently watchable. One hopes he will not faint from the sheer power of the compliment.
What now? As of this set of eliminations and particularly the departure of Steve, the banishings are mostly tracking with the actual quality of people’s dancing. The people who are left are dancing better than the people who are gone. Dancing quality suggests that Steve-O should go next, but little is known about the audience support for mid-level dancers like David and Ty and Chuck, and even Lawrence — though history certainly suggests an NFL advantage. Steve-O is still the odds-on bootee, but with much of the deadweight gone, we’ll learn more next week about who’s getting votes.
Square pegs and round holes: Kevin Rudolf performed a radio pop-rock number that didn’t favor the ballroom dance accompaniment it received in the slightest, and it is best forgotten. At the other end of the gritty-corny spectrum was a Viennese Waltz, created to showcase the dance prior to its performance next week, which actually featured couples being seemingly stalked by giant malevolent chandeliers. By far the most interesting filler was a Motown medley from Boys II Men, who disappeared effortlessly into a contemporary-tinged Four Tops tribute, then swayed straight into their own stuff. It was a very nice performance. In fact, it might have been a little too good, because it was easy to ignore all the actual dancing.
A change of plans: Because two couples went home, there was no dance-off this week, and because there was no dance-off, there was extra space in the show, even over and above the filler used in the last couple of weeks. For that reason, they brought back the “encore dance,” in which one couple is invited to perform their dance again. Hint: It’s not very suspenseful which couple will be chosen when the first perfect score of the season has just been handed out. Indeed, Gilles Marini and Cheryl Burke had another shot at their tango. A great treat for people watching the results show who … didn’t see the live show on Monday night.
Linda Holmes is a frequent contributor to msnbc.com